In this Issue #3


  • There’s never been such a radical restricting…
  • A new inventory protocol for Cities
  • Low carbon transport- Avoid, shift, improve
  • The  negotiations advance
  • The role of cooperatives
  • The cost of adapting to climate change


Approximately ten thousand people have gathered in the Pacific coast city of Lima to discuss and debate a myriad of issues related to climate change. In the background, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) today announced that 2014 is on track to becoming the hottest year ever recorded due to a combination of record-breaking global sea temperatures and record-high greenhouse gas emissions. NOAA announced that the West Antarctic glaciers is melting at a rate three times faster than previously understood. Finally, and just like during the negotiations last year, a major typhoon is about to make landfall in the Philippines.

This was the headline from a German newspaper after Germany’s largest utility, E.ON, long a pillar of the country’s fossil and nuclear industry, announced it was exiting the fossil fuel industry in favour of renewables, intelligent grids, energy management and other services. Two days later the French bank Société Générale pulled out of a major coal project in Australia, a project that according to Greenpeace would have resulted in more emissions than the total of the country of Sweden. The fossil fuel industry is taking notice. A representative of Chevron attended the Canadian delegation update meeting, which is traditionally the domain of non-profits and environmental groups. And perhaps in recognition of the growing divestment movement, an organisation called the Global Carbon and Capture Storage Institute has organised a side event titled Why divest from fossil fuels when a future with low-emission fossil energy use is already a reality?

On Monday, I will be heading over to ICLEI’s Lima Dialogues on municipal climate action at Lima City Hall. In the afternoon, a coalition of organisations will launch the Global Protocol for Community- Scale GHG Emission Inventories. This protocol is an international standard to enable comparison of GHG emissions around the world. Already SSG is applying a draft version of this protocol with municipalities in Canada.

The Partnership on Low Carbon Transit, the International Energy Agency and others have been discussing an approach to transforming the way in which people move around, in other words accessibility. The three-part approach they are articulating is called “avoid, shift and improve”.  Avoid policies slow travel growth through land-use planning and travel demand management as well as tele-working. Shift policies enable and encourage the transition of motorised travel to public transit, walking, cycling and freight rail. And improve policies focus on the introduction of efficient fuels and vehicles such as hybrid and electric cars. The International Energy Agency’s A Tale of Renewed Cities report explores these ideas in detail.

The official negotiations are a tangled web of convoluted acronyms- ADP, NAMA, MDB, TRB, REDD, (and REDD+) to the extent that the negotiations constitute their own language. The negotiators from each country shift with ease from one concept, while revealing their particular slant. It is remarkable to see a civil and often constructive discussion amongst countries that in the broader geopolitic are in conflict or at loggerheads. There are, however, many issues at play. For example the Pacific Island of Tuvalu called for commitment to keep warming below 1.5 degrees as opposed to 2 degrees, while New Zealand suggested net zero CO2 emissions by 2011. The issue of how to collectively achieve GHG reductions of that magnitude continuously emerges. Many countries cite the idea of common but differentiated responsibility, a reference to the idea that developed countries have contributed more GHG emissions to the atmosphere over time and should therefore be responsible for deeper cuts and for compensating developing countries whose emissions have only recently begun to climb.

SSG has released a new report that highlights examples of leadership by co-operatives, describes characteristics of co-operatives that uniquely recommend this model to the climate change challenge, and finally outlines policy recommendations that would empower co-operatives to support the world in the transition to a low carbon economy.

In a major study, United Nations Environment Program found that local, regional and national governments are already spending significant dollars on adapting to climate change- $23-$26 billion in 2012-2013 alone. Even if the world succeeds in restricting the temperature increase to 2 degrees, this total is likely to reach $250-$500 billion by 2050. While some countries have the resources to foot this bill, most do not, and who foots this bill is a major discussion item in the negotiations.

Logo projected against water foundation at the opening reception of the 20th meeting of the parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Supported by Vancity